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DVD Review

DVD cover

Monster Squad
The Complete Series


Starring: Fred Grandy, Henry Polic II, Buck Kartalian and Michael Lane
Fabulous Films
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: U
Available 03 August 2009

Working his way through his studies Walt, a student criminologist, takes a job as a night watchman in a museum. To help his studies and to pass the time, Walt builds the prototype of his crime computer in the alcove that holds waxworks of famous monsters, but when Walt activates his machine the oscillating vibrations bring the monsters to life...

Monster Squad (1976 - 1977) is an American live action comedy/adventure show that was originally transmitted in the Saturday morning slot by NBC. The show came at the end of the fad for camp shows, which verged on kitsch. The canned laughter and vibrant colours give the show a presentation similar to Batman (1966 - 1968), which is not really surprising as the creator of the show, Stanley Ralph Ross, had worked as a writer on Batman.

The show ran for thirteen episodes and all of them are present here on this two disc DVD set. Like most shows aimed at a younger audience, the stories have a somewhat repetitive format. Walt discovers that something/someone is up to no good and the monsters, Dracula (Henry Polic II), Frankenstein (Michael Lane) and the Wolfman (Buck Kartalian), who seem to have grown a social conscience, feeling that they have to atone for their respective pasts, investigate and punish the transgressors, under the watchful eye of Walt (Fred Grandy).

It’s a kids program so it doesn’t have to make sense, so we skip over the problems of waxworks atoning for fictional characters and move on to the show itself. Children's programming of this sort is uniquely difficult to critique, the acting is over the top, but then it’s designed to entertain and little else. That not to say that all children's programming is on the same level, certainly The Munsters (1964-1966) and The Addams Family (1964-1966) are superior to Monster Squad, but then Monster squad appears to be aimed at a younger demographic.

Although the original show had a short run it was able to boast some recognisable guest stars. Alice Ghostley (Bewitched) Appears in the first show as the queen of some South American bees, bent on world domination. The Astrologer demonstrates Jonathan Harris’s (Lost in Space’s Dr. Smith) ability to play over-the-top characters. There are others, but to be honest most of them will be better known to an American audience.

Disc one holds the first seven episodes - Queen Bee; Mr Mephisto; The Tickler; The Ringmaster; Music Man; No Face and The Astrologer - extras on the disc are restricted to episode synopsis and series synopsis. Disc two holds the remaining six shows - Ultra Witch; The Wizard; The Skull; The Weatherman; Lawrence of Moravia and Albert/Alberta - with extras here consisting of episode synopsis and a photo gallery.

The show is presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio with a mono audio track. The print is about as good as you could expect from a show of this age, with the restoration of the print bringing the picture quality back up to its original broadcast quality.

For those of you who hold fond memories of the show, the restored version will be a delight. Once again Fabulous Films have released a disc which shows due reverence to the cherished memories of their audience. If you missed the show, the first time around, but like the camp and colourful feel of the Batman television show, you might want to check this out as it really is cut from a very similar cloth.


Charles Packer

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